TheGreat American Beer Festival
was made for social media, and theFalling Rock Taphouse
was made for the Great American Beer Festival.
So, it only makes sense that Falling Rock owner Chris Black plans to fall face forward into Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (despite his preference for in-person contact with actual humans) while the world's biggest beer festival is in town again this fall.
Since Falling Rock is typically the center of the universe during the three-day festival -- the place for locals and tourists to find brewers, bloggers, and craft beer celebrities and aficionados from Colorado and from the rest of the country -- Black hosts about fifteen events and dozens and dozens of special beer tappings.
And when the place is packed, it's difficult to get the attention of the notoriously brusque bartenders, so getting a rundown of what keg just went on is nearly impossible.
Which is why Black paid a consultant to redo his website (it went live a couple of weeks ago) with links to a variety of social media sites. One of his favorite features is the YouTube videos showing every tap handle and what's pouring.
"I think the Twitter thing will come in really handy," he says. "I'm trying to adapt, to use this to my advantage." If a keg blows, Falling Rock's Twitter followers will know it. When a new beer gets put on tap -- say a rare Avery brew or a cask of something special from Stone -- the bar's Facebook friends will find out about it.
Black thinks the breweries -- all 465 of them -- inside the Colorado Convention Center should be doing the same thing in order to let their fans know when certain beers are being poured and whether the brewers are on hand to talk about them.
"That's what Twitter was made for," he says.
Of course, Black himself won't need Twitter to be in the know. After a decade as Denver's only craft beer bar, and an additional four years of being the granddaddy of a new wave of tap rooms, he's got all the friends and connections he needs. And despite how crazy-busy Falling Rock is, Black still finds time each year to go to the hall.
"That's why I moved to Denver. Because of the Great American Beer Festival. That's why we opened where we did," he says.
In 1997, the Wynkoop Brewing Company was the center of the universe during GABF, but that changed. And although Black is enjoying the company of places like the Cheeky Monk, Euclid Hall and Freshcraft, his establishment is still most people's first stop.
"Every brewery that comes here wants a place to strut their stuff," he says. "Fourteen years ago, I started asking for special kegs to put on during that week. I asked for this."
This year, Falling Rock has four more events scheduled than in 2010, with another two that could still make the lineup. In addition, Black will take over the parking lot in front of Falling Rock and put in a twelve-tap outdoor bar for the week. And, yeah, it will more than just the standard fare: "We'll have Pliny, we'll have the good stuff," he says. All told, he'll be able to fit more than 500 beer maniacs inside, on the patio and in the parking lot at any one time. Here's a rundown of the events that are on tap:
Monday, September 26
5 p.m. -- The countdown clock is running, and it will hit beer-thirty at 5 p.m. for Falling Rock's fourteenth annual GABF Kickoff Party. Black plans to tap ten special kegs at that time, although he hasn't said which ones.
6 p.m. -- Boulevard Brewing head brewer Steven Pauwels will be on hand to help tap some kegs from the brewery's Smokestack Series.
Wednesday September 28
4 p.m. - Tapping Anderson Valley Saison and Imperial Boont Amber.
9 p.m. -- Elysian Pumpkin Beer Festival: Join Dick Cantwell and the nation's most pumpkin-obsessed brewery as they break open ten Elysian pumpkin beers, including: Night Owl, The Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Dark o' the Moon Pumpkin Stout, Hansel & Gretel Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner, Mr. Yuck Sour Pumpkin, and Coche de Medianoche -- a Mexican-themed pumpkin ale with cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, chiles and roasted pumpkin seeds.
11 p.m. - Try Stone Brewing's most recent collaborations, including Hwy 78 Scotch ale (Green Flash/Pizza Port Carlsbad), Japanese Green Tea IPA (Baird/Ishii).
Thursday, September 29
2 p.m. -- Anchor Brewing brings out some of its newer offerings.
10 p.m. -- Full Sail Stash & Rarities Party: Full Sail head brewer John Harris will help crack open some rare and barrel-aged kegs.
11 p.m. -- Green Flash Brewing is sending out some special kegs.
Friday, September 30
12:00 p.m. -- This time-honored tradition begins at noon when Falling Rock hosts its annual Sierra Nevada Kill-A-Keg party, in which the bar's patrons try to kick a keg of the California's brewery's harvest release as fast as possible. Last year, they killed the keg in a record nine minutes 53 seconds. Black himself does all the pouring, and he's vowed to step up the pace. Afterward, Falling Rock will tap Sierra Nevada's Estate Homegrown Ale.
2 p.m. -- Avery rarities, including aged kegs of Beast and Samaels, will be on tap.
3 p.m. - Tapping Rogue Brewing's Double Chocolate Stout and John John Hazelnut.
10 p.m. - Black pulls out some Dogfish Head treats that he's been saving in the beer vault, including a World Wide Stout.
11 p.m. -- (Upstairs) Tapping Alaskan Brewing's 25th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout, made with Alaska birch syrup from Wasilla (hello, Sarah Palin!) and fireweed honey from Delta Junction.
11 p.m. -- (Downstairs) Tapping He'Brew's JewBelation 15, 15:15, and HopManna.
Saturday, October 1
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8 p.m. -- Firestone Walker head brewer Matt Bryndelson will be the house to tap some special beers and a firkin.
10 p.m. - To say goodbye to another GABF, Falling Rock will tap some unusual New Belgium beers, including three separate versions of La Folie, one blended by Black himself. All three versions can be tasted and voted on.